Prior to their sold out headline show at the London Camden Roundhouse, Alter The Press! were fortunate enough to sit down with Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low for an in-depth interview.
author: Jon Ableson
Alex spoke to ATP about growing up in the UK, ‘Nothing Personal’ getting to #4 on the Billboard Chart, dealing with success, being given the ‘Blink-182’ tag, signing to Interscope Records, new material, building a moat around his house and more.
Alter The Press: How does it feel to be back in the UK?
Alex Gaskarth (vocals/guitars): Amazing, it’s been incredible and I love it over here. It’s a shame the tour has been so short because it’s over in a couple of days. The kids have been amazing, the reactions have been great; we’ve been doing a lot of radio over here. It’s been a lot of building, which is good.
ATP: You were born in the UK weren’t you?
Alex: Yes. I was born in Harlow and I lived in Toot Hill, in Essex. I lived there until I was six, then I moved to the US. There was a change in job on my dad’s part but I used to come back regularly and visit family. I didn’t go to Harlow much because most of my family is elsewhere, like in Wales and up north.
ATP: It must be great, when you play here, all your family can come out and see you at the shows.
Alex: Yeah. I’ve had a lot of family coming out in Manchester yesterday, and Newcastle, so it’s been good to catch up.
ATP: Touching briefly on ‘Nothing Personal’, number 4 on the US Billboard Chart, 22 in the Canadian Album Chart. What was your first response to this?
Alex: Initially, it was shock. No one expected this to happen; none of us saw it being that extreme. There were predictions that we’d break the US Top Ten, or something like that, but to be number four, was really cool, and speaks a lot about our fan base and how impressive they are.
ATP: Just thinking about the state the industry is in nowadays, considering so many people bought the record; you must think about how many people own it illegally?
Alex: It’s definitely a little crazy, but it’s the nature of the industry now. To me, it’s something you have to suck up and deal with. As long as people have the record, and come to the shows, I don’t really care.
ATP: In reference to that, one example, Strike Gently.com; a very popular website which post links to new albums, movies etc and are known for poking fun at All Time Low, but they hailed you as their favorite band of 2009!
Alex: It was a funny surprise to see that. I always tried to mess with that website, back and forth, but I get what they are doing and find it pretty entertaining myself. It doesn’t so much burden me, as it kind of makes me giggle. I give that website props for what it does, it definitely bends a few rules but it’s the nature of the industry now, as media is going to be leaked. They do ask that people go out and support the bands though.
ATP: How have you been dealing with the success of the band?
Alex: You adjust. It’s definitely weird when people get hysterical, but I don’t think any of us consider us to famous or anything like that. I think it’s a balancing act of keeping yourself grounded and being able to deal with your workload, as it increases because, as the band gets bigger, so does the amount of stuff we are obligated to do. It’s really about wanting to do that. It’s what we are passionate about, so it’s not like it’s a chore. We can still go out in public but it depends, like if it’s a day of the show, and all the kids are in town, it’s very difficult to walk around but, again, it all depends where we are. Like New York City, a town with a big population compared to being in Nebraska. If I get approached in the street, it’s more flattering then anything else.
ATP: It reminds me of the Good Charlotte song, ‘I Just Wanna Live’.
Alex: Yeah. It can be invasive but, for the most part of it, people are generally polite about it.
ATP: But in a rare instance you get the situation where, recently a girl paid to find out your home address, waited outside your house, took pictures of your dogs through your windows and even after that, knocked on your front door asking for a picture with you.
Alex: That set me off a little bit. That, in my eyes, was crossing the line. I think what people forget, is that we are humans, and you forget that you wouldn’t do that to just anyone. It’s like, ‘Why would you do that to one of us?’ It definitely crossed the line, freaked me a little bit, but kids do foolish things. I think she learned from the mistake, based on the bashing that she got from her peers online. It’s more of an eye-opening hint of what’s to possibly come, if the band continues to grow and have the same kind of success. But again, you can’t live your life behind walls. It’s a risk, but it’s not going to affect my life, I’m not going to live my life like a hermit.
ATP: And build a moat around your house.
Alex: Exactly, I thought about that! It’s probably too expensive! I can dig it myself, fuck it.
ATP: Ever since the band started, you’ve been given the ‘Blink-182’ tag about trying to imitate their style with your live show. What do you think about that?
Alex: In a way, I would say they are right. This band was built around the generation of pop-punk bands before us and that was our influence. It’s clearly what this band is driven by, that style of music. The antics you see on stage, we don’t fake that, and a lot of people think it’s something we pre-meditate, and it’s really not. The four of us are just kind of assholes and we have a good time together, if you get us all in the room together, it’s just chemistry. Everyone acts ridiculous and I think that’s the same thing that happened with Blink. I think they were best friends at the time, who liked to push the limits of what they can say, to get a rise, and we do the exact same thing. It just so happens that we like that band and definitely take some flack for ripping them off.
ATP: Going back to what you were saying, about liking to push the limits of what you can say to each other, to get a rise. With America for example, parents trying to find someone/something to blame for their children being in trouble, have you encountered any issues with people complaining about your onstage banter?
Alex: It’s definitely come up. We’ve thought about it before, and I’ve received e-mails from angry parents before, but what I tell them, and stand by to this day, is that we have always done that, that’s been our band from the get-go. I think in the past year, our crowd has gotten younger and it’s opened that door for kids to branch away from The Jonas Brothers and they are like, ‘Oh, this band is a little more real’ and they get more into this sound, with it’s more rebellious attitude, whatever you want to call it. I mean, we have definitely ended up with a lot of younger fans, but we don’t cater our shows towards that. We’ve had that same mentality the whole time. Sometimes, we go a little overboard, but it’s like anything, if you have a twelve-year old daughter who wants to come to our show, as a parent, it’s your responsibility to filter it. You wouldn’t let them see a movie if you didn’t approve of it, it’s the same.
ATP: It’s what comes with the All Time Low package; you know what to expect. If you don’t like it, don’t come to the show.
Alex: Exactly, and that’s how I feel about it. If you get offended easily, don’t show up.
ATP: Any plans for another single?
Alex: Yeah. Radio One (UK radio station) have just debuted ‘Lost In Stereo’ as the single, and the video should be following shortly. It’s going through a couple of re-edits based on the content in the video, which wasn’t appropriate for TV. That song is the next single, it officially drops in March, but Radio One are pushing it and trying to get it out earlier.
ATP: You have officially signed to Interscope Records from the next record onwards. Why the switch from Hopeless?
Alex: Hopeless has been great to us, and we want to make sure people know that, but as an indie label, they can only do so much for our band. We’ve put out an EP and 2 full lengths on Hopeless and between us and them, we feel we have reached the absolute peak that we can with an indie label. There isn’t much more room for us to grow with Hopeless, so we’ve moved on to Interscope. Being that they are a Major, they have more resources to help grow our band beyond what Hopeless could.
ATP: Jack (Barakat – guitarist) has posted on his Twitter that you have been demoing new songs. What can you tell us about the new material?
Alex: I can tell you, it’s similar to ‘Nothing Personal’ but I’m trying to lean a little away from the pop, and focus more on rock now. I’d say the songs are coming out like ‘Nothing Personal’ on steroids. It hasn’t been long enough for me to start writing in some obscure new way, but I would say it’s a little more developed then ‘Nothing Personal.’ With every new record, we grow.
ATP: Any new song titles?
Alex: It’s all tentative but I have a song called ‘Jennifer,’ which is pretty much finished. And, ‘Where I Belong’. Those are the two that stick.
ATP: Are you starting to wind down the ‘Nothing Personal’ album cycle now?
Alex: Somewhat. The album still has some legs on it, regardless or not whether we make this new record sooner than later, it’s not going to come out for a while, but we will still be riding on ‘Nothing Personal’ for the majority of this year probably. I think it has the ability to do that, I think there are some songs that can be videos/singles.
ATP: What is the plan after this tour?
Alex: We are going to Mainland Europe, then Australia for the Soundwave Festival and then back to the US to start working on the new songs.
ATP: Are there any plans for another US or UK tour?
Alex: Yes. We are planning out the rest of the year as we speak. I think there is a good possibility we will be back in the UK towards the end of the summer. We’d love to come back for the festivals, but nothing is confirmed. If that doesn’t happen, we will come back and tour again. There is definitely stuff in the works for a US late spring/early summer tour, but the details are still being hammered out. It’ll be a headline in some form or another.
‘Nothing Personal’ is out now on Hopeless Records.